Overflowing. The late Steve Allen brought historical characters to life on his series Meeting of Minds. Were that show still broadcast, I can now think of another fascinating person for him to assemble at an eclectic table for conversation: Roald Dahl. Having known Dahl as the author of Willy Wonka and James and the Giant Peach, I became aware of the rest of his life thanks to Jennet Conant’s book, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington. After this fighter pilot career in the Royal Air Force was cut short by illness, Dahl was assigned to the British Embassy in Washington in 1942, and joined an effort to influence American public opinion toward the war in Europe. The suave and debonair Dahl became enmeshed in social circles, and ate, drank and slept his way into relationships that helped the British achieve their objectives. In Conant’s depiction, Dahl is “a man in full,” overflowing with charm, intelligence, and a physical presence that made him capable of influencing those with or near power. This is a readable and enjoyable tale of a fascinating time, and is packed with intriguing characters.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)